Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer to be offered pill which lowers risk of death by a third

  • Britons with advanced prostate cancer to get pill to reduce death risk by 1/3

Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer are set to be offered a pill which can lower the risk of death by a third.

Experts claim the drug, olaparib, offers a lifeline to men with the most treatment-resistant form of the disease.

It comes just days after it was given the green light to treat advanced ovarian cancer after trials found it could reduce the risk of death by two thirds.

In prostate cancer, research showed it could significantly slow the progression of the disease.

Men taking the drug alongside hormone treatment abiraterone had their cancer held in check for an average of eight months longer than men on the hormone drug alone – and their risk of death reduced by 34 per cent, too.

The combination will now be available to men after NHS spending watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence last week approved the treatment.

Prof Noel Clarke, consultant urologist at The Christie in Manchester, says it offered a ‘real, significant benefit’.

He adds: ‘We’ve never seen that kind of improvement in survival with any other drug in this group of patients. Most treatments add another two-and-a-half months – this is three times that.’ More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK.

Up to 20 per cent are classified as ‘castration-resistant’ – meaning the cancer has grown despite patients being treated with drugs to keep levels of testosterone, which can drive the disease, low. Many of the 10,000 men a year who die from the cancer are in this category.

The drug, made by AstraZeneca, is a PARP inhibitor, which blocks a protein cancer cells use to repair themselves. Without the protein, the cells die.

Now men resistant to hormone treatment, who cannot have or do not want chemo, can also take it alongside abiraterone and another drug, prednisone.

Amy Rylance, of Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘Olaparib and abiraterone are very effective drugs and, prescribed at the same time, give these men valuable extra time before their cancer progresses.’